By Kaitlyn Dubynskiy
Voyage To America
The First Year
The first year on land for the pilgrims was a very bitter year. Though they had found a good place to settle inland of the Cape Cod Bay, most of the Pilgrims had fallen ill and were dying from starvation. The Pilgrims had arrived in winter, too late to plant any crops. Over forty people died from pnemonia, scurvy, and starvation. The people of this young colony called this sickness the "Great Sickness". Only about 50% of their population survived. Only four of the survivors were grown women! Some people say that the brave women who died starved themselves so their children had a chance to survive. The sickness continued until mid-February. It was a miracle if nobody died within a few days. Finally, in March, the men finished building their homes. People tried planting crops, though few succeeded. Most of the plants from England did not survive as the native plants did. The men continued to explore. On March 16, 1621, the Pilgrims were shocked to find a Native American calmly walk into the streets of their colony, named Plymouth. They had not seen a single Native ever since they came ashore. Though they had found mounds of corn, wigwams, heard their mysterious screams in the night, and saw the smoke from their fires rise out of the forest, not once did they see a Native--And now, to see one standing in their own colony! Even more to their surprise, he stopped and shouted, "Welcome, Englishmen!" He spoke English! The Pilgrims own language! All the people ran out of their houses to touch him, to feel his skin, to brush their fingers against the piece of deerskin hanging from his waist-the only item of clothing he was wearing. The Indian told them his name was Samoset. When the Pilgrims asked him where he learned to speak English, he said from some English fishermen who came to fish farther north--Around present day Maine. A few days later, Samoset returned with another Native, Tisquantum. He, too, could speak English, only much better than Samoset. Tisquantum said that he had actually spent a number of years living in England. As a young man, while he was walking along the beach of this bay- now called Plymouth Bay- he was kidnapped to be a slave in Spain with other captured Indians from nearby Wampanoag tribes. Somehow, he made his way to England and spent four years there, learning many English words. One day, he was offered the oppritunity to return to his homeland. A fur trader was leaving for the northern coast of America and wanted Tisquantum to accompany him and hopefully make peace with the nearby Indian tribes. Finally, he got to his homeland, but saw only the deserted fields and empty wigwams. No people. Tisquantum was told by the other Native tribes in the area that his village- the Patuxet- were wiped out by a deadly plague that killed many Natives. The plague was brought over by the people of Europe and England. When Tisquantums master went on to Virginia, Tisquantum decided to stay behind with his people. Tisquantum then told the Pilgrims that this very place used to be the village of Patuxet. That is why when they came there were already empty meadows for planting and building. Then the pilgrims saw a large group of Indian men standing on a hill that overlooked the colony. They wanted to sign a peace treaty with the Pilgrims-- one that would last fifty years. Throughout the summer, the Indians helped the Pilgrims plant Indian corn, wheat, barley, and peas. Soon they were growing lots of food. The Pilgrims thrived! And though only four grown women survived the first winter, the children were growing up. Little by little, the colony rose in numbers, thanks to their friend Tisquantum- called Squanto by his English neighbors.
The First Thanksgiving
Netherlands- a small country located east of the modern-day United Kingdom and north of the English Channel
Patuxet- the Native American village that Tisquantum grew up in; part of the Wampanoag tribe
purslane- a fleshy-leaved trailing plant with tiny yellow flowers that is often thought of as a troublesome weed but can be used in salads
scurvy- a disease caused by lack of the vitamin C found in some fruits and vegetables
strangers- what the Separatists called the other groups of people aboard the Mayflower that did not come for religious reasons
watercress- a water plant with small, round leaves; often used in salads
whey- a milk serum separated from the curd during cheese-making
wigwam (also called wetus)- a type of Native American home common in the northeastern region of North America; bowl shaped
Cobblestone Pilgrims Rock The New World. Meg Chorlain. September 2009.
The Plymouth Colony Let Freedom Ring. Pamela Dell. 2004.
The Story of Squanto, First Friend to the Pilgrims. Cathy East Dubowski. 1990.
Morris, Michelle. "Plymouth Colony." World Book. Student.
World Book. 2015. Web. 19 Feb. 2015.
White, David. "The Pilgrims: Voyage to Freedom."
Social Studies for Kids. Aug. 13 2003. SIRS Discoverer. Web. 05 Mar. 2015.